The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” Battalion (53IB) in partnership with the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Sur, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) inaugurated the Halfway House to the Former Rebels (FRs) as part of the unit’s 36th Founding Anniversary celebration with the theme: “MATAPAT@36: Remember with Gratitude, Renew with Passion,” with a simple ceremony on January 21, 2021 at Barangay Poblacion, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.
The halfway house is a joint project of the Provincial Government of Zamboanga Del Sur, 53IB and the DILG. Funded by the DILG through the Task Force Balik Loob, the halfway house will serve as the former rebels’ temporary shelter.
“The halfway house is also intended for their livelihood programs, education, and skills enhancement as part of their preparation to go back to mainstream society,” 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herera said.
During the ceremony, the Guest of Honor and Speaker, Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista the former 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division Commander and currently the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said, “President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s issuance of Executive Order No. 70, institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach to converge the efforts of the national government, local government units, the military and police together with concerned non-government organizations have given the right solution to finally end the armed insurgency in our country.”
“We are grateful that the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “MATAPAT” battalion, the 102nd Infantry “IGSOON” Brigade, the 1st Infantry “TABAK” Division, the Western Mindanao Command and the Philippine National Police, have been performing their sworn duties-motivated and inspired to fulfill their mandate to serve the people and secure Zamboanga del Sur with the firm support of our local government units,” Sec. Bautista said.
Secretary Bautista also thanked Governor Victor J. Yu and the Local Government Units of Zamboanga del Sur for giving full support to our military forces who deepen their sworn duty and commitment to serve the people and secure the land of Zamboanga del Sur.
The Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed-Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) Chairperson, Governor Victor J. Yu talked about the fruit of hope for the Former Rebels (FRs) understanding and transformation as results in the governments campaign to end the challenges brought by our constituents who joined those who fight for the wrong ideology.
“Our President changed the strategy in countering the insurgency, and we, the Local Government Units are grateful that the National Government included us in the whole of Nation Approach,” Gov. Yu said.
The FRs together with the Matapat Troopers performed an intermission number during the said event.
Each of the Thirty-One (31) FRs received food packs and financial assistance amounting Php5,000.00 from the DSWD.
Present during the event was, the Commander of Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Corleto S. Vinluan Jr, the Commander of the 1st Infantry “TABAK” Division Maj. Gen. Gene M. Ponio, the 102nd “IGSOON” Brigade Commander BGen. Leonel M. Nicolas, the 547th Engineering Battalion Commander Col. Emerito D. Pineda, the 7TAS AFP Army Reserve Command (ARESCOM) Brigade Commander Col. Amy Adona, the 44th Infantry “Agile N’ Stable” Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Don D. Templonuevo, the 1st Cavalry Commander Lt. Col. Rommel M. Pereña, the Tactical Operations Group 9 (TOG 9) Commander Lt. Col. Joshua R. Leones, the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (1st MIB) Commander Lt. Col. Noel A. Abello, the Provincial Director of Police Provincial Office PCol. Redentor Retusto, the Provincial Governor Hon. Victor J. Yu, the 1st District Representative Hon. Divina Grace C. Yu and different Government Agencies.
“With our continued strong bonding in our commitment to serve the people of Zamboanga del Sur, we would strive to maintain our peaceful status and be ready for full development towards progress,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.